Sahrawi activist: My struggle to keep conflict with Morocco peaceful

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By Yaiza Martín-Fradejas
Sahrawi activist: My struggle to keep conflict with Morocco peaceful

Sahrawi activist Aminatu Haidar is known for her many acts of peaceful defiance in the fight for the independence of the Sahrawi territories from Morocco.

Her activism work has been recognised with the Alternative Nobel Prize, which Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has also received.

“This prize is clear support to the just cause I’ve been defending since my childhood,” she told Euronews.

“The respect for the right to auto-determination of my community, the Sahrawi.”

Despite being convinced that a peaceful fight is the only solution to the conflict, she acknowledged to Euronews that activists have to battle with young Sahrawis that want to take back arms.

“They suffer daily from the repression, torture, jailing, unfair trials, marginalisation, and poverty. All of this is part of Morocco’s political strategy to marginalise young Sahrawis.”

“For the young Sahrawi population to not act out in a violent way, they have to guarantee them their fundamental rights,” she added.

Born in 1966, Haidar has been advocating for the independence of the Sahrawi territories for decades.

From 1987 to 1991, she was imprisoned and held without trial by Moroccan authorities after she participated in a nonviolent march. From 2005 to 2006, she went to prison again: she had been arrested as she was on her way to a march, and was charged with "participation in violent protest activities and incitement" and "belonging to an unauthorized association".

In 2009, she started a hunger strike in Lanzarote Airport after she was denied re-entry into Morocco's Western Sahara territory by the authorities.

The Alternative Nobel Prize is not Haidar's first international award: she received the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award in 2008, and in 2009 was awarded the Civil Courage Prize.